Serbia and Kosovo sign “landmark” agreement normalising relations
Serbia and Kosovo have made steps forward in major economic, political and social areas as the European Union’s foreign policy chief heralded the “landmark achievements.”
The agreements include greater recognition by Serbia as Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008, more than 10 years after conflicts in the area as Yugoslavia broke up.
On the agenda were telecommunications, with Kosovo now gaining its own international dialling code, as well as ensuring freedom of movement across the Mitrovica Bridge – which had occasionally been a flashpoint for tension in the past.
Other agreements saw the protection of rights for Kosovo Serbs, a minority within Kosovo. Under the new rules, they will have greater autonomy over their local economy, education, and healthcare provisions.
The move was lauded by both sides, with the Serb Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić stating that “nothing stands on Serbia’s way towards Europe”, and the Kosovo Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci saying that Serbia had in effect recognised Kosovo as an independent state. Recognition of Kosovo’s independence has been controversial at times.
Both Serbia and Kosovo have been seeking admission to the European Union since the conflicts ended, and both have been making progress toward becoming members. There are many obstacles toward full membership, but with these agreements further steps have been taken. For example, not all member states currently recognise Kosovo as an independent state.
Greater cooperation between the two Balkan states comes at a time when the flow of migrants on their way to Europe through the area is ever increasing. Indeed, a major summit is being held this week of leaders from neighbouring countries to discuss the crisis.
Croatia became the first former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the European Union on January 1st, 2014.